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In brief: Nichia, Cermet, Fujimi

Nichia hints at an expansion of its GaN laser diode production capacity; wide-bandgap materials specialist Cermet rolls out non-polar substrates; and Japan-based wafer polishing company Fujimi branches out into sapphire wafer production for LED applications.

Nichia set for laser ramp
GaN optoelectronics pioneer Nichia says that it has developed blue-violet lasers emitting 320 mW in pulsed mode and with an estimated lifetime of more than 10,000 hours.

According to the Japanese company, which controls the biggest market share in terms of both GaN-based LED and laser diode production, the high-power semiconductor laser could be used to record data to a dual-layer high-definition disc at more than ten times the normal speed.

Nichia added that it will "do its best for the market demands by expanding the production capacity and product quality [of GaN lasers]".

Demonstration of high-power continuous-wave emission from the laser will likely be required before commercial deployment can begin.

Cermet gets non-polar
Cermet, the Georgia Institute of Technology spin-off that is developing semiconductor applications of GaN and ZnO materials, has launched its first non-polar nitride substrates.

Using the non-polar orientation of GaN has a number of theoretical advantages, and developers of laser and LED technologies at both the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the Japanese firm Rohm have recently demonstrated non-polar lasers that exhibit the predicted low threshold current densities (see related story).

Cermet also recently showed that it is possible to produce white LEDs without the need for a phosphor by depositing GaN on a ZnO substrate using MBE.

Fujimi goes large on sapphire
Japanese wafer polishing specialist Fujimi is reported to be branching out into the semiconductor wafer business.

According to the local Nikkei.net news service, Fujimi is planning to produce both 3-inch and 4-inch sapphire wafers for LED epiwafer applications. Although the current market for GaN-on-sapphire LEDs is based largely on 2-inch production, some recent developments have suggested that 4-inch production is becoming a serious possibility.

For example, Cree recently qualified 4-inch LED processes on SiC wafers for the first time, and Japan-based Showa Denko is planning to build a 4-inch GaN LED epiwafer fab this year, using a new deposition process (see related stories).

The Nikkei.net report states that in January 2006, Fujimi acquired a controlling stake in the sapphire wafer developer Interoptec, which is also based in Japan.

Interoptec's large-scale sapphire wafer facility in Ota, Gunma Prefecture, is currently being built, and Fujimi is said to have invested up to ¥600 million ($5 million) in the factory. Its goal is to sell ¥1 billion worth of sapphire wafers for LED production in its forthcoming financial year.

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